Sheree Brown – Messages From The Spirit…The Collective
For an avid reader of liner notes and credits, Sheree Brown is best known to me as a frequent collaborator on several of Patrice Rushen‘s best albums, released between 1978 and 1987. She has written or co-written some of the most memorable and loved tunes for Patrice: “Didn’t You Know” for “Patrice” (1978), “Let The Music Take Me”, “Settle For My Love”, “Haven’t You Heard” and “Call On Me” for “Pizzazz” (1979), “Look Up!” and “The Dream” for “Posh” (1980), and “Watch Out!” for the album of the same name (1987).
Sheree also recorded LPs on her own, starting with the wonderful “Straight Ahead” in 1981 and “The Music” in 1982, which basically had more or less the same musicians as Patrice had during that period. Both albums remain precious soul/jazz items to this day. Remember to check out “It’s A Pleasure” from her first album. She then stopped recording on her own and has now come up after eight years with an eclectic collection of songs about love. Sheree reigns supreme here and little hymns can be found, like the philosophical, uplifting “Get Up, Stand” which features Rosalind Smith, Marcus Paul, and Shawn Moore.
Highlight of the set is certainly the grooving opener “Take A Walk With Love”, a sure-fire monster midtempo soul swayer which has all the right ingredients to become a classic. The production is crisp and thick, Sheree’s voice in full throttle, and the whole piece simply outstanding. She wrote “I Choose Love” together with her old pal Patrice Rushen and there are more veritable soul ballads, like the easing “We Can Make It”. Another real showstopper is “Spirit”, where Sheree is joined by the wonderful singer Mayanicol. The track with subtle percussion and brass backdrop and some moody keys thrown in, is indeed capable of raising your spirit. Very cool backgrounds also. Nailah Porter (haven’t heard her in a while) guests on the optimistic “Beautiful Girl”, about self-assurance and love for yourself.
Which is the theme for “I Want You To Know”, an acoustic ballad with warm strings and guitar and singer Kevin Thomas singing “I Want You To Know That You Are Beautiful”. Sheree can also be heard on acoustic guitar throughout the album and comes close to Dianne Reeves on the deep, finger-snap guitar-driven “Her Blue Shoes”. I’m not really into the formulaic, poppy “Sorry ‘Bout Bein’ A Ghost”, but she makes up for it with the dreamy “I Wanna Thank You Love” featuring Sarah Lynne Johnson. I really like the stripped-down, slightly trippy, ethno-ish “Do, I Really Do” with effective drum and backing vocal effects, and the organic “We Can Make It” featuring Patrice Williams, a soothing track which reminds me of the best of Rachelle Ferrell.
The total of 16 songs on one album has become a bit rare these days, especially when there is no real dull or filler track in sight. Check out “It’s All About Love”, the tenderly percussive piece with Dwight Trible, including a sophisticated piano solo, or the only cover version of the album: Sheree tackles Minnie Riperton‘s “Les Fleur” (sic) with wisdom, respect, and affirmation only she seems to be capable of.